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tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  November 13, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EST

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>> live from our studios in new york, this is "charlie rose." "rosewater" is a new film by jon stewart based on the real-life experience of maziar bahari, who covered the uprising after the presidential election in iran, was accused of being a spy, and tortured by a iranian authorities.
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it is a topical reminder of the risks faced by journalists. here is the trailer. >> you are one month pregnant and you are already like this. >> go away. >> is this for business or pleasure? >> i am a journalist. >> devoted to the supreme leader. >> we are the educated. >> welcome to dish university. >> why did you put away your camera? >> it will not do your friends any good. >> tensions are rising in iran. >> the elections have ended in
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controversy. >> you were going to get killed. >> you have a real weapon and you choose not to use it. >> stand up. >> we are here now. >> can you tell me why i am here? >> that is what happens to foreign spies caught on iranian soil. you are a spy. who are you working for? you will tell them nothing. >> there is nothing to tell. >> who is anton chekhov? >> the playwright? >> it is you who has the interest of him on facebook. >> you must not just take his blood, you must take his hope.
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>> your wife will never see you again. your child will never know you. >> fight. use your freedom. it is their weakness. >> what are you doing? >> they locked you up but they are still free. >> in their hearts, they know they cannot win. >> unbelievable movie. >> the movie is only 30 seconds longer than the trailer. [laughter] >> that is jon stewart, he's the director. gael garcia bernal is the star. and maziar bahari joins us. i am pleased they are here. congratulations. >> thanks. >> you see your life on screen.
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>> yes. it is weird. [laughter] it usually happens that people like nelson mandela, people of that stature. people who are dead. the good thing is i am not dead. it is weird to see your life on screen. >> tell me, what has made this movie that you thought you wanted to be involved? he had been on your show. you knew him. >> we knew after he had been arrested in 2009, we became friendly and meeting for breakfast downtown. he was writing his memoir at that time. we talked about trying to make this into a film. the memoir, which is compelling. his father had been in prison. his sister. you have generations lost to these regimes that are suppressing their people, not just against the west, allied
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with the west. it is incredible generational story. we were trying to get it made into a film. we made list of writers we loved. >> you were trying to get it made. was there a moment when you said i want to make a film? i want to see a film made about it? >> when we used to meet for breakfast. it is something i thought was a relevant topic to today, the way that information has been democratized. who was a journalist, the way that these 20th century regimes have to find a way to suppress a new media of information. i thought it was a compelling thing, along with the amazing observations that he made while in prison. the humor he was able to maintain. the family story. i thought it was beautifully done. >> had you been looking for a
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film to make? >> no. that part, no. if police academy came my way i would not turn it down. get back in the game. [laughter] not at all. i was going to produce. >> our first conversation was about emily and humor. jon is a satirist. something along those lines. he was interested in the humor in the book. he was interested in the family aspect of it. even in the film, the main characters are two male characters, the protagonists, but the heart and soul of the film belongs to three amazing women, my mother, my sister, and my wife, portrayed by fabulous actresses.
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we kept talking about humor in the book and the story, and the family. the women in my life. >> how do you find humor in this? >> i didn't. he did. that was his fault. in some respects it is a test case for what you always imagine. it is hypothetical. even under the most directors, the most oppressed condition, humor can being a shield. it is what separates you from those that believe they have monopoly on the truth. these regimes, to see him retain that, and keep himself alive, and find the humor in what was an absurd situation, he was not a spy, and they showed him a clip from "the daily show" where jason jones says to him in a cafe, as an american spy, tell me why is your country terrifying.
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they played that for him. >> you interviewed ahmadinejad. i am sure sometimes after the interview you will just say to yourself, this guy is ridiculous. >> yes. >> imagine being interrogated by ahmadinejad, and repeating everything you said in those interviews for 118 days. eventually my interrogator became my muse. i was thinking about my conversations and rehearsing it in my head. i was transcribing those observations and conversations that we had. >> welcome. it is good to see you again. >> good to see you. >> when did you get involved? >> not a long time before
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shooting. it was three months before? >> we had to find him in the jungles of the amazon. he was in a loin cloth running through the jungles. that is true. >> i was playing a psychedelic rambo character. the change was exciting. >> we have seen dictators. >> we have seen dictatorships. >> when you read the book, did you say this is a story i have to tell? >> i'm glad you asked me. it feels so far away. it is so similar in many ways. i felt much in touch with his story. i have never been in confinement, but there was something that was an interesting connection. also it made it amplified, the
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situation. it was not just about maziar bahari. it is about these issues. humor is reflective. you can tell every single situation in the history of mankind of this, power, doing something, trying to control a critical moment, a movement. they have always used ridiculous excuses. the inquisition was terrible. the inquisition used ridiculous statements to sustain their actions. >> ignorance is universal and eternal. it is great. the first time i met gael, i was shocked by how much you know about the situation.
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he is very knowledgeable about the politics. he does, he makes documentaries. he is not one of those actors who don't know where iran is on the map. the new iranian history. it is the details we had to talk about. >> going into the making of the film, you take 12 weeks off. you are going to go to jordan and make a movie. you have written a script. you have the cast you want. what is surprising? what was terrifying? >> the most terrifying thing about the project is not to let maziar down.
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you feel a responsibility. his memoir is a reflection of this time. it is already twice removed. i am not going to have the same nuanced year a great iranian director is going to have. it is owning your own inauthenticity while trying to best express the more universal elements of the story, and not screw it up, to be frank. to just do justice to what he went through, and to be able to articulate that story with the proper intention, and in a way that dramatizes the way we thought. >> did you seek advice from other directors? >> no question. as someone like yourself, you interview people. you can have directors on the show. we would talk about a project. i would find my way back to the green room and say ron howard, i've got this script. [laughter]
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some of that was to get a sense of their feeling of the viability of it, it wasn't so much act one, you need conflict. it was more this is a viable story. this is something you can accomplish in the time frame and the money we had. we had little money and little time. was this a realistic endeavor? >> and they said yes. >> yes. two yeses, one not sure. one, i'm awfully busy, please get out. in general the feedback was positive. >> tell me about the relationship between him playing you, and the interrogator, who is a different kind of man. your lives are totally entwined. >> my main challenge in prison was to humanize my interrogator, look at him as a human being. i knew if i regarded him as a monster i would be defeated from the beginning.
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i was fighting two different battles. one was physical. i was a prisoner. he was part of the revolutionary guard. the other part was, psychological battle, i knew i could win. i had lived a richer life. i had a richer cultural experience. i love my family more than he did. i had friends. i knew if you had the same experience i had he would not choose being a torturer. that is a horrible job. you have to go to a dark room every day, the people, humiliate people, and think you're going to paradise and then go back home. i had to find the psychological battle with him to getting my inner resources, and just humanize him, see the complexities in him. see the vulnerabilities.
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try to manipulate that. or very practical reasons, to stop him from beating and insulting me, and to satisfy him as an employee of the system. like any other employee, bookkeepers, he has a boss. he had to give some information to his boss or a i had to give him some information that would not hurt me eventually but would satisfy him. the scenes with the sergeant, that is part of that plan that i had in my head. >> you said he brought oxygen to the role. what did you mean? >> it was a very delicate balance for the actor who was going to play maziar. he is still alive. he was there with us.
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>> he can tell. >> there is the pressure of playing maziar, and hearing offset no. what are you doing? [laughter] but it was more about the agility. sometimes for an actor when you have to play a scene of duress it is easy to play it and all of its fullness. one of the things that was interesting was his ability to maintain a sense of mischief, to compartmentalize the ordeal and remain with a hint of this is absurd him and keep that. gael caught that. the absurdity. to play that as subtext under duress. when he came in, there is a scene in the film where maziar
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gets to call his wife for the first time. it is maybe two minutes. there is no cut. it is one camera, locked in tight. he had to go from fear about being about to be beaten into incredulity that he is going to talk to his wife, into the joy of hearing he is about to have a baby girl, to being physically assaulted, to laughing in the face of his interrogator and flipping the script. he had to accomplish that without the ostentatious trappings of acting. it is one of those scenes you could easily chew on. he brought a subtlety and nuance to it, and agility that was really special. >> are you instructing him? >> i was not onset.
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i don't like to watch movies being made. i like to watch them. [laughter] >> a new definition of director. >> it was a collaborative process all the way through. >> that is what makes it interesting. have someone who wants to learn and go forward as you do as an actor. >> it was a joy. we had many situations that made it complicated, shooting during ramadan and strong heat. i remember boiling. it was difficult. working with, we met each other there. we had to come up with something. there is a joy and a complete panic of what is going to take shape. where is this going to lead us? little by little we started. in the second week i felt we had been two months there. it felt like an intensity. it was joyful.
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>> you were filming inside of a prison. >> our first four days were at a working prison. when you're on location in new york you get what are you guys shooting? it is not like the prisoners are saying is this a commercial? [laughter] it is intense. you're trying not to humiliate them. they are undergoing this and you want to be respectful of the conditions they are under, and the beginning of the holiday of ramadan. >> we were in the wings where the solitary confinement took place. to witness that, for me, i was new and preparing. realizing this is something that happens everywhere in the world. it was harrowing in a way.
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maziar says it is the most effective way of torture. to leave people in solitary confinement. >> we do it here. as a matter of behavioral correction. it is something that breaks people down psychologically in terrible ways, and quickly. >> you took an approach to torture, you did not want to engage in torture porn. you wanted to be like "jaws," the fear of. the suspense of it. >> yes. maziar and i talked about this. an audience can become numb when viewing something brutal. it loses its impact.
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they develop an immunity to it to some extent. the longer carries impact. when the violence occurs it cracked like lightning. it always hangs in the air. it was a way to invest the audience in its, and they come clean way and visceral way then sort of giving a lurid presentation so that it becomes something that you are numb to watch. you see violent things on television all the time and we don't seem to register them. i wanted to find a way to accentuate the difficulty of it without necessarily letting people off the book in the same way that once maziar was a prisoner we don't leave the prison. you push the discomfort.
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>> was the fear of the punishment worse than the punishment? >> solitary confinement was the worst. what happens is they deprive you of all your senses. everything you see is just the walls. you cannot touch anything except for the walls. you cannot hear anything. you become delusional. you feel lonely. you become suicidal. sometimes during my time in solitary i wanted to be interrogated, beaten, to have some sort of human contact. to not be in the cell all by myself for two weeks. >> what was the worst? after 20 days? was it immediate, the sense that i am here. i have no change of my future.
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>> the only way you can communicate is through your interrogator. his job is to tell you no one cares about you. no one does anything for you. you're going to rot here if you don't cooperate. that is the fear. we have that really joyous mr. hillary clinton moment. one of my guards mistakenly called me mr. hillary clinton one day. there and then i knew the rest of the world was thinking about me. hillary clinton was talking about me. that is the best day. you don't have too many good days. it was the least of the worst days. >> this is a scene where we talk about what you saw in the trailer, the idea of crushing hope. >> you will tell.
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or they will tell me. >> you have the wrong people. >> you must not just get his blood. you must take his hope. >> the boss. >> he is in "homeland." >> how do they go about trying to crush hope? >> by telling me, by putting me in solitary confinement and telling me i was going to be executed if i did not name names.
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the main reason for my and prison meant was to incriminate the reformists within the iranian government through me. my interrogation was not about my work as a journalist. they told me i was a spy for the cia and newsweek. the magazine. they say it is part of the intelligence apparatus. they wanted me to name names of reformers and tell them i put others in touch with british embassies or the cia. they were telling me just write down whatever we ask you. don't worry about it. if you tell us to put these people in touch with foreign intelligence i promise you are going to be released tomorrow. i knew that many people had the next acute because of these -- had been executed because of
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these false confessions. my challenge was to confess softly but not to incriminate anyone. >> this is "the daily show" issue that was used. >> as a spy i'm trying to figure out why your country is so terrifying. >> the first thing to know about iran is that it is not evil. they have a lot of things in common. >> what do i have in common with you? >> the number one enemy of the united states, al qaeda. if you kill and i romney and or -- an iranian or a shiite, you get 72 virgins. >> upstairs. [laughter] >> i run a stupid show.
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i don't have anything to say. maziar is a brave man. i run a stupid show. >> we have to repeat that. "the daily show" did not have to do anything with my imprisonment. they had a scenario for me, and i could be on "two and a half men," and they could charge charlie sheen. [indiscernible] >> it might have been interesting if charlie sheen -- >> the interrogator might have enjoyed that. >> they were fascinated by sex, jews, and new jersey. >> triple crown, baby. [laughter] >> best friend. >> what were you looking for?
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what were you looking for? what did you want to see in this character? >> something mercurial. something childlike. here is somebody as trapped in an oppressive system as other people. not necessarily evil. he is used as a weapon for physical violence and breaking people. this is an opportunity to step up. he asked to be aspirational. you want to bring somebody in who views this as an opportunity, not just for the state before himself to step up in weight class, a guy with sophistication to show he is not just a thug. in the scenes were he is the most vicious it is based on his humiliation more than what maziar has done.
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he reacts to something his boss has done. what i was looking for was someone who could bring that characteristic of imminent violence but a sense of childish vulnerability. a very difficult line to light. difficult to be that character and yet be able to infuse it -- i don't want to say sympathy. you don't let him off the hook. but a sense of understanding there is a three-dimensional person there. >> was there stockholm syndrome? >> not whatsoever. i was trying to manipulate. i knew i don't like this person. he is a human being. he is not a monster. >> you see humanity in the man. >> i see humanity and everything.
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but i don't have any kind of passion for them. i don't like them. i did not like my interrogator at all. i felt sorry for him. if that means stockholm syndrome, i feel sorry for him. what a waste of energy. what a waste of time. he could be a good bricklayer, accountant, i don't know, a scientist even. but he was wasting his time beating people and humiliating people in a dark room thinking that maybe he goes to paradise. i'm talking about in hindsight. sometimes i felt angry. sometimes i felt frustrated. i knew that my anger and frustration, if i let them exist in me, they would not me from inside much more than they would
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hurt him. my challenge was to take the anger and frustration that i have inside, to do something more positive. like the book and the film. >> how did you see in a sense the beginning and the end the character europe are trying? -- you were portraying? where you had to take it? at the beginning where we see him at the end, what is this acting journey for you? >> taking this pain and this ordeal, where it is put in the book, the book was a platform for this approach. i have been repeating this many times.
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i cannot identify or understand what maziar went through really. it is so complex, overwhelming. it is something i have never been close to. the thing i can do is empathy, having emotional empathy, and incorporate the burst of putting everything out there. putting everything out the for the character as well. the new character that was going to be built. it is a new character. there is a film version of maziar story that comes from the book. >> tell me about the scene where he is dancing. >> i believe this man's hips, gael --
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[laughter] they could be registered with the cia. [laughter] >> a mexican national treasure. >> the idea of the scene, reclaiming your humanity through the one antithetical device to an oppressive regime, which is dance, catharsis, joy, and reclaim this small space. he reclaims every piece of that cell. every move past each area reclaims that as a place not of his confinement but where he discovers his freedom. that is what is liberating. to see that and cut his interrogator, having no idea of what this is a how to interpret it, and his befuddlement, his inability to understand that expression of joy even under
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these conditions. >> he is saying to himself i'm failing. >> i think within them there is an insecurity that always believes that. i don't believe he would have the sophistication understand. i think it was the final meant. >> during my experience, having a jewish singer-songwriter from montreal providing relief from the inside and an iranian prison was something that was strange to him. it was something i could tap in. leonard cohen could provide the soundtrack of my imprisonment without anyone around me knowing him. he not only provided the soundtrack to mine prison meant but also he was my secret
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weapon. we have him in the film. [laughter] [indiscernible] i have never been around someone whose cultural literacy is at the level of his. we have been doing this for a while. one journalist maziar was listening to and use said where you from? you got out and 1956. all of a sudden they start talking out, and they start naming books. and i'm like, i watch the disney channel. ♪ >> let's talk about the
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>> let's talk about the televised confession. look at this. >> you did nothing. you confess or nothing has changed. >> i did what you told me to do. [inaudible]
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>> your wife will never see you again. your child will never know you. your mother will die broken hearted. you did this. >> a lot of directors incorporate something, their own path they wanted to take. do you think you got there -- [indiscernible] >> and also because there was a specific, it is a specific prison. it is unlike any torture scene i've ever seen. it is clean. it is something everybody mentioned. how could it be so clean? a prison that is clean. feels clean. it makes it even more strange.
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it is an office building. >> it is not a hollywood prison. >> it is a prison in iran. >> it is. many people have died and tortured. i think it was designed by the americans in the late 1960's. >> do you want to make another film? >> i have not thought about that yet. people ask me. i haven't thought about it. >> i would think, i have seen more people make films and have had successful films, and people say you want to get back to it right away. don't wait five years to make the next one. >> why do i have to go now? >> right now. >> the one thing i want to stress, as we look at the clips, part of the thrust of the film is to present a nuanced view of iranian society as a whole.
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we have a tendency to view it as a monolith. it doesn't match our expectation of a middle eastern prison. i hope it doesn't match our expectation of iran, and we see the complexity of the country, the vibrant youth movement, the educated, incredibly open, especially in the first half of the movie. hopefully it paints a vital picture of a country that is not as easily categorized as in the axis of evil in the same way we are not the great satan. hopefully it opens that conversation. likes a lot of great filmmakers there. >> unbelievable filmmakers. >> this is an interesting place. they say that in countries in the middle east where the
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government loves us the most the people hate us the most. where the government hates us the most, the people love us the most. >> of course. the majority of young iranians, they love american culture pretty love american ideals. they do not like some american policies in the middle east. they do not like the fact that american government backs a coup d'etat, a relatively democratic government at that time. they love american ideals and american culture. whenever i meet officials, i say young iranians are your best allies in the middle east. >> would you suggest? >> they have to make sanctions smarter. do not have these blanket sanctions.
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the problem with sanctions is that they are blanket sanctions. they have all companies, all banks are afraid of giving letters of credit to people who want to export medical goods or pharmaceutical goods. thanks, being conservative, do not give these letters of credit. many iranians see that as part of these sanctions. what the state department has to do, they have to send bureaucrats to different banks, to tell them we have sanctions on these fields. we do not have any sanctions on pharmaceuticals. and technological companies like google, facebook, twitter, alleviate their fears of dealing with iranians. they are using google and facebook, twitter illegally through these vpns and filter busters. they have to go to google and
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other ecological companies and tell them there is no punishment for dealing with iranians. those are smart sanctions. we have these blank sanctions being imposed. they are hurting iranian people more than the iranian government. >> there is always the question about sanctions. >> they come up with the idea of sanctions but they do not have the bureaucracy to implement it wisely. you should have the bureaucracy first grade they should have the manpower first. >> and the sustainment build the animosity. look at cuba. blank sanctions that keep the struggle going. >> it's an interesting fact about iranian life. the idea of iran having nuclear potential. most of the people, that is on a big issue for them.
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>> it is an issue of national pride. >> they would take it out. that would cause them to be much more hostile to people who try to prevent them? >> also i think the nuclear program has to do with the behavior of the government. argentina had a nuclear program between 1980 and 1983 before they had democracy. south africa built six nuclear bombs, and then they became democracies. even if south africa had nuclear bombs now, no one would worry about it. if argentina had them no one would worry about it. in order to change the behavior of the regime they have to communicate with the young people of iran.
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they have to give this space to express themselves. i have always asked western governments to work on satellite internet. one of the main ways to democratize iran is to allow unfiltered internet. how much research they have done, nothing. >> it is a character. it is more of a tool. i think there is a small segment that gives a nod to its power, but i did want it to be something done explicitly going it says on twitter that there is a protest. we wanted it to play a subtext and not necessarily as text. >> when you read recently the
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president sent a letter to the supreme leader what did you think? >> i think it is the right thing. iran is a strong country in the region. there should be negotiations. what is the alternative? bombing? has bombing been successful in iraq and afghanistan? what we are still working on a triple get it right. don't be quick to dismiss. [laughter] >> what has been their reaction to the film? >> positive. [laughter] >> i have not been on. i don't know. they have produced some news pieces i think about the film and my cia involvement. >> that you're a tool. >> i'm one of the few people who have been accused of being a
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zionist and anti-zionist. it is a venn diagram. there are only three of us in there. >> that is good. i would hate it if the revolutionary guards write a comment relator to john stewart saying death to all jews except for jon stewart, you are the only one we like. you understood our values. on the other hand, i don't like the conservatives in this country, the hardliners to like the film either. i don't like that. both extremists are going to find things they don't like. >> that they don't fit the stereotype that they have in their mind. >> that iranians are humans. [indiscernible] >> a lot of people have seen the film that are not from the
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united states. that are not from the western europe where the sides are clearly drawn in the films. people pick on the issues the film talks about that are nothing to do even about iran. like torture, systematic torture all over the world. the fact that this struggle and the crisis of power how power is trying to find its way into new society and control that. the issue that it talks about, and maziar has been doing work, that has spanned many other places. protection of journalists, for
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example. which is a big, huge issue. people whose all that from mexico, they were picking up on that. they were picking on the politics, kind of tangible, and the urgent ordeal that the film talks about. >> it is universal story. >> it talks about, hopefully if you look at it on the broader scale, it minimizes evil, and exploit ignorance. evil is relatively rare. ignorance is epidemic. the cure for that is journalism and expression. the footage in the film of the gentleman being shot maziar's. most journalists had been asked to leave. he felt a responsibility as the only really professionally trained journalist still out there shooting. he got it uploaded.
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as news organizations cut back on money, you have freelancers out there, bloggers, citizens journalists out there on their own in incredibly dangerous situations putting their lives on the line, their freedom on the line, to just have a witness to some of the atrocities and things going on within their countries. the idea is to bring to their plight some attention. it was fortunate to have international attention. at the same time, to show the
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unsustainability of this. when you build apparatuses within the state and the sole purpose of that is to suppress or repress your own people, the cost of it financially and in human capital, the state will sag under the weight and you watch it now, because they have to cast a wider net, the lessons we learned from all these other things that drain the resources of the state, and there is not a piece of information that could get out that would be as damaging to a state as these large bureaucratized institutions. >> i have read this and this is about institutions. >> no question. >> institutionalized doubt. the necessity of institutions like journalism. what governments will do out of ignorance. >> what happened in 2009 in iran was that for the first time, social media lady role in social movement. facebook and twitter allowed people to gather information, share information, and mobilize themselves in a way that had not
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happened in the past. >> iran to cairo, -- >> and also in ferguson. that is frightening the governments. they saw millions of people coming to the streets asking for their rights as citizens of the country and at the same time they used these new tools, new digital tools the government was afraid of to mobilize. google was not around at that time otherwise it would have insisted. >> would you go to iran? >> i would love to. from everything i can see it is incredibly beautiful. educated, vibrant, it had food. it is delicious. there is not a thing about it other than the fact they may not let me back out that i would love to go. >> if you had an opportunity to go would you worry you would not
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come back? >> i don't want to be naive. i know this is not their favorite film. >> you can be sure of that. >> the hope is we will be able to go one day. like i want to go back. >> i've never felt like this is against them. this is expressing what they actually did to one man, but hopefully gets at something occurring all over the world. this is not something you can dismiss as the singular issue. >> you are taking the stories say something larger. about what is happening around the world. >> and here. >> congratulations.
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>> thank you. >> the film is "rosewater" and it opens when? >> charlie, tomorrow. friday. the 14th. thank you. >> thank you for joining us, see you next time. ♪
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>> live from pier three in san francisco, welcome to "bloomberg west" where we cover innovation, technology, and the future of business. the senate will vote as soon as tuesday on a bill to approve the keystone xl pipeline and bypass the opposition i president obama. here is wisconsin republican ron johnson. >> i'm a blue to easily pass it in the senate will stop whether president obama signs of rot, the onus will be on him and then the people will see the republicans are not the party of no. it's pretty much the president and harry reid being the one-man party of no. >> mary landrieu push for


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